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Zion and Bryce National Parks are a trip through the red rocks of the last 200 million years of Utah history, which includes the world's largest dune field ever recorded and a series of lakes and rivers. Along with the Grand Canyon, they make up the rocks of the Grand Staircase, with an almost complete sequence of rocks over a half billion years.  Below is sample itinerary, all items flexible:
Day 1, 8 AM - Leave Salt Lake City.
12 PM - Get lunch on the way, possibly at Cedar City.
2 PM - Arrive at the visitor center at Zion. Check into hotel or campground. Spend time at the visitors center, museum.
4 PM - Go on moderate hike, probably the Watchman trail or Emerald Pool trail.
6:30 PM - Eat dinner and retire for the night.
Day 2, 8 AM - Take a shuttle down the Zion Scenic drive. Stop at all of the stops to see the various sights and short hikes. At end stop, hike up Narrows briefly.
12 PM - Back from shuttle, eat lunch.
1 PM - Start heading up the Carmel Highway to the higher elevation part of the park as we head towards Bryce. Stop at various places, like the Checkerboard Mesa, on the way.
3:30 PM - Arrive at Bryce. Check in at hotel/campground. Explore visitor center.
4 PM - Take the rainbow point drive and stop at viewpoints along the way. See the sunset as we travel!
6 PM - Arrive back at visitor center after drive, then eat dinner. Pack it in for the night.
Day 3, 8 AM - Take a hike into the Bryce formation, via the Navajo and/or Queen's garden trails.
12 PM - Eat lunch and head back to SLC.
5 PM - Back in Salt Lake.
Checkerboard Mesa, high elevation part of Zion. Bedding planes and fracture joints create the pattern.
Map showing the drive from Salt Lake to Zion/Bryce.
Trip - 2-4 days
Drive time - 5 hours each way from Salt Lake

Other things to do:
-Angel's Landing trail (difficult and steep, but amazing view of Zion)
-Hike the Narrows (up the river, so wet, not steep)
-Kolob Canyon (see a baby Zion Canyon starting to form)
-Cedar Breaks (a Bryce-like formation near Cedar City)
-Navajo Lake (cool high-elevation lake)
-Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (pink sand dunes!)
-Pipe Springs National Monument (historical well)
-Snow Canyon State Park (cool basalt flow and canyon)
-Kanab (nice touristy town)
Thor's Hammer in silhouette, with the Sunken Ship in the middle of the picture.